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Cricket at the Olympics? Not in time for Paris Games, committee says

India captain Virat Kohli. The country's powerful cricket board has been reluctant to endorse international attempts to include the sport in the Olympic Games. Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

An old debate over whether cricket should be included in the Olympic Games resurfaced on Wednesday as a panel of former players urged India’s powerful board to drop its objections to the idea.

The MCC World Cricket committee urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to back its bid to have the sport included in the Olympics.

The governing International Cricket Council has said most of its members backed the inclusion of the 20-overs format in Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee is open to the idea if all top teams compete but the BCCI is reluctant.

“It’s one of those things that has frustrated me and the fact that we want to see cricket in the Olympics is something that will help promote the game around the world,” said the MCC committee’s chairperson, former English cricketer Mike Gatting.

“It just seems strange that everybody else seems to be happy to get in there because it’s just going to be so good for the game,” said the former England captain.

“Free-to-air TV all over the world. It’s only once every four years. It’s not going to be a scheduling matter. It just seems they seem reticent to try and get involved.”

The BCCI, the game’s richest and most influential board, has been reluctant because of apprehensions it might lose its autonomy and be answerable to the India’s Olympics committee.

No return to La Belle Epoque

Cricket was last played at the Olympics in the Paris Games of 1900, during the period known as "La Belle Epoque" (French for The Beautiful Era) for its association with optimism, peace and prosperity.

Another committee member, former Sri Lankan player Kumar Sangakkara, expressed doubt that there was enough time to negotiate the sport’s inclusion in the 2024 Games in the French capital.

“We were looking at the 2024 Olympics, I don’t think that’s going to be reality at the moment because the preparations are well underway,” Sangakkara said. “But 2028 seems a very, very likely target and they are negations and discussions underway.”